Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What genre is Brian DePalma's Passion (2012)? New York Film festival 2012

Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace almost share a kiss in the photo that every reviewer seems to be using

Brian DePalma canceled just as he was going to appear at the press conference at the New York Fillm Festival for his film Passion. I mention this because I really wanted to talk to him. I had one big question to ask him : How am I supposed to take Passion? Is it a comedy or a thriller?

I wanted to ask him the question because if the film is tongue in cheek, its a very funny send up of DePalma's body of work. On the other hand if the film is supposed to be a serious thriller from start to finish then the film is a huge failure.

At this point I need to say that this review is based on not only my viewing of the film,but also with discussion with several other film writers. To say that my discussions of the film has been intriguing is an understatement. Rarely have I simply been able to listen to so many intelligent people talk so deeply about a film. The discussion has been so good that if I can manage it I want to print a round table discussion with some of the people I've talked to because you need to hear the talk it's inspired.

Based on Alain Corneau’s 2010 Love Crime the film tells the story of several women. Noomi Rapace plays a cog in an advertising company working under Rachel McAdams. Rapace does all the work and McAdams takes all the credit. McAdams is a hellish boss who will do anything to get her way and get back to New York from Europe. When Rapace gets screwed over she takes steps to get what she deserves and ends up in a battle with her boss...

I've said too much but there is plenty more where that came from, so not to worry.

What is a worry is the tone of the film which seems to waiver between being serious and a joke. Brilliant line readings are followed by awkward ones. I didn't know whether the film was supposed to be serious or not.

If the film is supposed to be serious then the film is a failure. Simply put as a straight forward thriller the film doesn't work. As I said the line readings are off, the music is frequently over done, there are too many dreams with in dreams, there are arty cinema techniques, a ballet sequence that appears to have been filmed in a closet, and the film has so many twists and chasms of logic that you really can't believe that it's serious, except it's being marketed as such. It's so bad, several "scary" moments brought laughter from the audience.

On the other hand the film shoots so far out into the ridiculous and so far into the insane that it's very easy to imagine that the film is camp. It could very well be an over the top exercise sending up the conventions of the thriller and DePalma's own hand in it. If you know DePalma's earlier films such as Blow Out, Raising Cain and Dress to Kill you'll see the riffs all over the place.

Which is it?

After several long discussions I would side with the comedy aspect. There is too much internal evidence to suggest otherwise. I also don't want to even consider that DePalma would be so out of touch to actually think the film is a straight thriller.

If it is a comedy, I completely understand why people crucified the film in Toronto simple because the film is being marketed and sold as the wrong thing. (Note to DePalma - if you're kidding please let your advertising people know because this film is heading for disaster at the box office since people are taking it the wrong way.)

A fellow Unseen FIlms writer had the best idea, they should show the film at midnight because it plays like midnight movie.

Should you see it?

I have no clue. I have no idea if I should have seen it. Despite writing it up I'm still very mixed on the film. Some of it is so very good, and much of it is so very bad that until I can see it again I refuse to say completely how I feel about the film.

My advice is if you see the film go in and take it completely on it's own terms. Expect nothing in anyway and you may find yourself surprised.

(And for those who are hoping for some kinky sex... it's far from erotic or shocking or even very much in the film.)

The film screens 9/29, 10/6 and 10/11

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